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In a historical moment defined by massive economic and political inequality, legal scholars are exploring ways that law can contribute to the project of building a more equal society. Central to this effort is the attempt to design laws that enable the poor and working class to organize and build power with which they can countervail the influence of corporations and the wealthy. Previous work has identified ways in which law can, in fact, enable social-movement organizing by poor and working-class people. But there’s a problem. Enacting laws to facilitate social-movement organizing requires social movements already powerful enough to secure enactment of those laws. Hence, a chicken-and-egg dilemma plagues the relationship between law and organizing: power- building laws may be needed to facilitate social-movement growth, but social-movement growth seems a prerequisite to enactment of power- building laws. This Essay examines the chicken-and-egg puzzle and then offers three potential solutions. By engaging in disruption, shifting political jurisdictions, and shifting from one branch of government to another, organizations of poor and working-class people can enact laws to enable the construction of countervailing power.


Civil Rights and Discrimination | Labor and Employment Law | Law


This article originally appeared in 124 Colum. L. Rev. 777 (2024). Reprinted by permission.